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Al Golden transcript on Pregame Press Conference: Nebraska

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Miami Head Coach Al Golden addressed the media today and discussed the challenge of facing Nebraska, the maturity of his starting QB, and of course the Kevin Olsen Saga.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Courtesy UM

Opening Statement…

“Thanks for coming out today. We just finished practice, getting ready for the Nebraska Cornhuskers and got a lot of work done. Coaches are going to watch tape now. It’s a great opportunity. We’re excited. We opened up our preparation, and this is an excellent team, in all three phases. Look at [Tommy] Armstrong and [Ameer] Abdullah in the backfield, in terms of Abdullah getting the ball and being a big time runner, being able to capture the edge  but at any moment being able to put the foot down and cut back. He’s strong enough to run between the tackles, fast enough to run outside. He’s certainly one of the premier guys in the country.

“Armstrong is doing a great job - close to 90 yards a game rushing. He does an excellent job getting down the field to a great receiving corps. From that standpoint, they’re a challenge on three levels. On defense, they are as physical as we’ll see all year. The down four is a big, strong, veteran group, and back seven – on my depth chart, almost all returning starters. Excellent kicking game, looks like they found a punt returner last week. Great challenge in all three phases, and we’re going to need a great week of preparation.”

On if there was a specific moment he realized Brad Kaaya could be a special talent…

“We were excited about Brad coming in for sure. But you can never judge someone’s work ethic, their sacrifice, their dedication, their ability to see it. That part of it is hard to see. He was here live in camp, so we saw him throw live. We knew he had a good arm.

“Since he arrived on campus, he’s lost about 22 pounds, he’s learned a lot of football, he’s moving better, he’s quicker. He’s just really mature. We’re excited about him and obviously we had a whole group that rallied around him on Saturday, which was great.”

On if he has become a leader on offense since earning starting responsibilities…

“I think he has been a leader for us. From that standpoint, whether he was a starter or not, he would be a leader for us. He’s demonstrating it - that’s what he’s doing [as] a leader. He’s setting the standards and he’s demonstrating leadership ability, and what needs to be done. We have good leadership around him, which is great. Phillip [Dorsett] has been awesome, Shane McDermott, Clive Walford, Duke Johnson all those guys have been good. I don’t think there’s any question that Brad grew – as I thought he might – from game two to game three.”

On whether he is concerned by Brad Kaaya’s five interceptions through three games…

“We’re not really concerned about that. We were trying to give him a two-minute drill at Louisville at the end of the game…he threw one there. Last week we didn’t run the right route for him. We all know five interceptions is not ideal, but as coaches, we look at how it transpired and what transpired. There’s nothing about him right now that’s gun-shy, nor should it be. He’s a guy that wants to execute, wants to let it rip. He studies and prepares all week to be able to do that on game day. I don’t see him being foresee him worrying about interceptions at this point.”

On why he thinks his front seven is capable of handling a talented Nebraska offensive line…

“We’ll see. It’s a great challenge for us. I’m like everybody else – I think they have to keep staying unified, they have to continue to be cohesive, they have to continue to direct the ball unselfishly where it needs to be directed, based on what our force is. I think right now they’re doing that.

“There were a lot of instances in the game the other day where we just are fitting in much better. Guys know where they need to be, guys know where the ball needs to be directed, and then the free hitter is showing up. Most particularly, our safeties are tackling a lot better in the alleys, and we have to continue to do that because that’s going to be important. When we do get the ball to the perimeter, the cornerbacks have to show up. It is a great challenge…it’s not like the old days where you can just pin your ears back. They have a big strong physical offensive line, but they have a quarterback who does a lot of shell game. Is he giving it? Is he keeping it? Is one of the receivers in motion? Does Abdullah have it? From that standpoint, you have to have discipline coupled with gap integrity and unselfishness.”

On former quarterback Kevin Olsen no longer at Miami…

“It’s not the end. It’s not going to be the end for Kevin. I‘ve known the Olsen family since when I got into coaching in 1995. I know Coach Olsen, I started to recruit Christian and Greg in the late 90’s when Kevin was nine years old or 10 years old. I’ve watched him grow up. From that standpoint, that was tough for all of us. But this is about Kevin and his family and we need to respect that. I have no doubt that he’ll be back. He needs this time to look at himself and obviously move forward. I have no doubt with the support of his family, his brothers, his mom & dad, and those of us that know them really well, he’s going to have the right ending at the end of this.

“He won’t be back here at Miami. He’s going to win in the end. He’ll come out on top…The next step is to look forward and get on the right track, and be successful. And he will.”

On the difficulties recruiting high school players with regards to analyzing character…

“The one thing I will tell you is that when you say there’s nothing our staff can do, we do. We do. We discuss it all the time. We talk about choices, we talk about partnerships and hanging out with the right people. We’re consistently and constantly giving them examples - good examples and poor examples to learn from. From that standpoint, it’s disappointing. From everybody in our organization –whether it’s academics, [Andreu] Swasey and [our strength & conditioning staff] downstairs, our training room, our athletics administration, everybody - there’s really no excuse. They are consistently being educated about it. It’s important to us, important to our core values of our university… it’s disappointing.  It is a challenge. I can only speak for myself and our organization, but everyone is going through it right now. It is a challenge. The same issues that we face in society, in our educational communities, we face here. It is an ongoing challenge and obviously character is something that we’re always looking to identify.”

On what McNeese State did to keep the score close against Nebraska…

“I think the quarterback did a tremendous job executing. McNeese played really well in all three phases. They were aggressive. They took the ball away, which obviously helps when you’re in an atmosphere like that. I don’t think there’s any question they did a good job doing that. They executed really well. From our standpoint, there are some things in all three phases there just like the other two games.”